OHPA partisan elections bill faces final committee hearing: An Opinion

PrintSubmitted by Mike Harrison
March 27, 2015 1:22 p.m.


House Bill HB 1201, the bill to make elections for the Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) partisan, now faces its third and final hearing before the Federal and Local Affairs Committee. No date has yet been scheduled for the meeting, but it is likely to be on Wednesday April 1 at 9:00am. Fernandina Observer readers will remember that if the bill is voted down by any of the three committees, it dies there.

The second hearing was before the Government Operations Subcommittee on Tuesday March 24th. I travelled to Tallahassee and spoke against the bill, this time addressing the damage that the proposed change would do to the electoral system both in reducing the pool of qualified candidates for OHPA office, as well as reducing the number of voters who can participate in the election. Port Commissioner Adam Salzburg was also present and simply ‘waived in support’. The vote was 9-3 in favor of the bill, largely along party lines.

Mike Harrison
Mike Harrison

I had deliberately couched my arguments to reflect that my objection to making OHPA elections partisan is not about party politics, but much more about good governance and reducing the estrangement of the OHPA from the electorate. So it came as a great disappointment to see the vote again go down in a partisan way. It also disillusioned me to hear no questioning of presenters by the committee members, nor any discussion among them before the vote. The only indication of any critical activity came from one member who, when polled for his vote, said ‘Definitely, No!’ This, apparently, is the way democracy works today.

So the bill now moves to the final committee. I will speak again there, but this time I will try to raise the issue above party politics. I’ll appreciate support from anyone else who can travel to Tallahassee to speak. And if you cannot travel, please email your comments to the committee members whose addresses are:

Mike contact

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Steven Crounse
Steven Crounse (@guest_31434)
8 years ago

It would seem appropriate that HB1201 would be ratified on April fools day. So what we have in Nassau County is one party rule, or as we learned in civics when I was in school. Totalitarian rule. Which of course is better known as Communism. I guess civics is no longer a course in High School, and the vote by 47% of the electorate in no longer required. What a Country, and this is what I went to war for? silly me.

Randy Cottle
Randy Cottle (@guest_31536)
8 years ago
Reply to  Steven Crounse

Bravo, Steven! The only thing I have to add is that 47% is too high in this situation. More like 35%, especially when you look at the list of committee members below. Indeed, the date is QUITE fitting.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_31435)
8 years ago

Mike – You gave it a good effort. The ability of the channel to remain free for King’s Bay to perform it’s mission of nuclear deterrence – and spec ops – should be on the conscience of those that refuse to look beyond the dollar and their paycheck.

Mrs. D Hunter
Mrs. D Hunter (@guest_31446)
8 years ago

FWIW FO readers, keep the following information close to your vest as you shape and draft your thoughtful email appeals to these powerful individuals. Even better, go to each individual myfloridahouse.gov profile to seek out the legislative leanings of each committee member, strive to make your appeals conform to the underlying passions of these legislators. This is crunch time and, Mike Harrison, I bow to you for what you’re doing for this community.

Baxley – R
Mayfield – R
Pritchett – D
Ahern – R
Broxson – R
Burgess – R
Campbell – D
DuBose – D
Eisnaugle – R
Goodson – R
Jacobs – D
McGhee – D
Rader – D
Ray – R
Santiago – R
Smith – R
VanZant – R

Daniel Fullwood
Daniel Fullwood (@guest_31783)
8 years ago

The bill passed the committee today overwhelmingly.
14 yeas
4 nays
Of special note, 2 Democrat committee members voted in favor of the bill.

Also, Mr. Crounse, you have offended every voter in this county by your communist remarks, apparently you were not around when the Democrat Party was the majority in the county. No one complained then about the electoral process and called it Communism. Maybe you need to take another Civics class because you apparently were not paying attention in high school.